Tuesday, August 5, 2008

RIP Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

As a teenager in the Seventies I was an avid reader, and none stuck more in my deepest memory than reading Solzhenitsyn. I devoured the Gulag Archipelago, A day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Cancer Ward. He was a truth teller and yet the stories were shocking compared to any fiction I had read.

The books were banned in the USSR and yet here was a teenager in North London reading about atrocities against people whose own countrymen could not access the same books. I found this equally shocking.

Solzhenitsyn was accused of anti-Soviet propaganda and of "founding a hostile organisation". In 1945 he was sentenced to an eight-year term in one of Stalin's labour camps, to be followed by permanent internal exile. His writing was mostly undertaken in secret during this time and published overseas. A.I.S. passed away this week aged 89.

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